DENVER – They say a team is not necessarily in trouble in a best-of-7 series until it loses at home. The claim isn’t always true because the Tampa Bay Lightning are in big trouble after the first two games of the Stanley Cup Finals.
The fact is that his plan to slow down the Colorado Avalanche is not working.
READ ALSO : Nichushkin, Makar and the Avalanche crush the Lightning | Do the Avalanche have the perfect recipe?
Saturday, the double defending champions were dominated from the first line to the fourth line, from the first duo of defenders to the third, being jostled in the three zones. We crumple the piece of paper into a ball and throw it in the trash.
“You ask me if I’m gobsmacked that we lost 7-0? I certainly didn’t see it coming,” the captain said. Steven Stamkosafter a painful evening at the Ball Arena.
For coach Jon Cooper, it’s not about going back to doing his homework.
“The Avalanche play at an elite level, we don’t,” he noted. Let’s give them their due. We are in the presence of two superb teams. One plays at a much higher level than the other. We need to raise the level of the game.”
The team leaders cannot be blamed for avoiding facing up to their responsibilities. The Stamkos, Victor Hedman and Ryan McDonagh wanted to send the message that we do not give in to panic or discouragement within the group.
“It’s hard to swallow, but no one is shot in the locker room, assured Stamkos. We have the opportunity to get back in front of our fans and make the series interesting. »
Hedman was keen to put things into perspective, arguing that returning home will inject energy into the group.
“The Avalanche had two great starts in their arena. His players fed on that. We came from behind in Game 1, but not tonight,” Hedman insisted quietly. We allowed way too many overruns. We are better than that. We don’t feel sorry for ourselves. We have to get up in the next game.
“The Avalanche are a great team, with a lot of speed, but we’ll find solutions when they come home. The situation is not easy, but it is no coincidence that we are in the final. »
Like against the Rangers
The Lightning find themselves in exactly the same position as they did in the Eastern Conference Finals against the New York Rangers. But we know full well that the comparisons between the two series are lame. With no disrespect to the Rangers, the Avalanche are a much tougher beast.
Suffice it to say that the Avalanche are showing an immaculate record on the road this spring, with seven wins in as many games. Rangers were 2-5 away from home before heading to Amalie Arena for Game 3.
“The Avalanche are full of talented players at all positions, just like us,” Stamkos said. They are the fastest team we have faced. We have to find a way to slow them down. We have a plan. We need to execute it better. »
The Lightning had begun to show encouraging signs in Game 2 of the series against the Rangers. He’s going to come to Tampa in a different frame of mind against the Avalanche, who are very dominant.
“We’ve shown a lot of character to get back into games over the last few years, but not tonight,” Cooper said. It surprised me at times. If the theme became recurring, the series would be short-lived, ”he escaped.
The coach continued in the same breath to say that he has no doubts about the will of his troops.
“Does it make you sweat to have lost so decisively? Sure. These are things that happen, but we don’t want it to be in the Stanley Cup final. This group has always responded to the challenges facing it. The disappointment is strong, but we turn the page and we think of game 3.
Not ‘Vasi’ fault
Cooper left Andrei Vasilevskiy in net for the entire evening, even if its outcome was no longer in doubt after two periods. Vasilevskiy matched a personal high of mediocrity by allowing seven goals in a game for only the second time in his career – in 465 games.
The Lightning suffered the worst thaw by way of shutout in the Finals since the Pittsburgh Penguins demolished the Minnesota North Stars 8-0 in the sixth and final game of the Finals in 1991.
“It’s the playoffs, we’re here to win games,” Cooper said, justifying his decision not to remove the star goaltender from the game. “’Vasi’ gives us the best chance to do that. He’s our man, he’ll be back in front of goal on Monday. He is the best goalkeeper in the world. We win together, we lose together. Even if I had wanted to withdraw it, I think that he would not have wanted. He’s a fierce competitor and that’s why he’s the best. »
Stamkos bluntly expressed that Vasilevskiy was in no way to blame.
“We gave it up tonight. He has been our backbone for many years. He made incredible saves, otherwise the defeat would have been more painful. We owe him a better performance for the next game. »